Sony face another Interview headache
Copyright / January 2015

COPYRIGHT Film production   What started with the leak of embarrassing emails and private data from Sony Pictures – ended with the claim by the FBI that North Korea was behind the cyber attack when the film The Interview depicting the fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was pulled from cinemas by the major cinemas – although North Korea denied any link to hackers, the so called ‘Guardians of Peace’ and asked for a joint investigation into the threats with the U.S. authorities. But that’s not the end of Sony’s woes: according to TorrentFreak, the film may have used a 30-second portion of the song “Pay Day” without reaching a final deal with K-Pop artist Yoon Mi-rae. Torrent Freak describes Yoon Mi-rae as a “US-born hip hop and R&B singer who currently releases music on the Feel Ghood Music label.” In the past, her music has reached the top spot on the Korean Music Charts and Billboard’s K-Pop Hot 100. The artist was apparently in negotiations with Sony to have “Pay Day” appear in The Interview, but no agreement was reached: “There were initial discussions for using ‘Pay Day‘ in the movie, but at some point, the discussions ceased and we assumed that it would not follow through,” Feel Ghood Music…

Judge not happy with ancient precedent in SiriusXM case
Copyright / January 2015

COPYRIGHT Broadcasting, sound recordings   O’Melveny & Myers, the attorneys representing Sirius XM Radio Inc. in the potentially industry-shaking copyright litigation about pre-1972 sound recordings, have been rapped by District Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan who has now ruled that she hadn’t erred when she failed to apply the 1940 case of RCA Manufacturing v. Whiteman in concluding last month that Sirius must pay royalties to broadcast pre-1972 records – telling the lawyers that their newly-cited precedent had been overruled 60 years ago.  “The only clear error in this case is O’Melveny’s” Judge McMahon wrote -telling the firm that they had “deliberately missing the point” and “doing nothing but raise red herrings” since making its initial appearance in the case in November. The ruling stems from a lawsuit in which the two founding members of the 1960s rock band The Turtles allege that Sirius infringed on the group’s rights under state law by playing its tracks without permission. Federal copyright law doesn’t govern sound recordings made prior to 1972, and Sirius has argued in its defence that New York law also doesn’t cover performance rights for pre-1972 sound recordings.

Swedish raid knocks The Pirate Bay offline
Copyright , Internet / January 2015

COPYRIGHT Internet     Swedish police have seized servers, computers and other equipment used by The Pirate Bay, effectively (for the time being) taking the controversial file-sharing platform offline. The takedown directly affected the service’s domain, and had a knock on effect on other domains and proxies cused to access the site. CMU Daily reported that the service’s homepage” did reappear at a new domain registered in Costa Rica, though at the time of writing [09.12.14] that version of the site isn’t actually working – the homepage and community feed appear, but any attempt to access links to content via the site result in an internal server error.” Other file-sharing sites such as EZTV, Zoink, and Torrage were also offline, as was Pirate Bay’s forum The National Coordinator of IP Crime at Stockholm County Police Paul Pinter told Reuters: “We had a crackdown on a server room in Greater Stockholm because of a copyright infringement, and yes it was Pirate Bay”. Interestingly, one of the orginal founders Peter Sunde, who is no longer involved with TPB, posted a blog admitting that he was happy that the website was offline saying “News just reached me that The Pirate Bay has been raided, again. That happened over 8 years…

Use post bankruptcy results in damages
Copyright , Music Publishing / January 2015

COPYRIGHT Music publishing   The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has upheld a $2.1 million jury award in a copyright infringement case involving the 1993 hit rap song “Whoomp! (There It Is).” The song, which reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts, has been the subject of a copyright dispute spanning more than a decade between Alvertis Isbell, or Bell, the president of now-defunct music company Bellmark, and DM Records, which purchased its assets for $166,000 when it went bankrupt in 1997, according to court documents. The appeals court on Thursday affirmed a 2012 jury decision that awarded Bell’s affiliated designee publisher Alvert Music $2.1 million. DM Records had appealed the 2012 ruling, saying a district court judge erred in instructing the jury, which caused confusion about who owns the song’s royalties. Cecil Glenn and Steven James, known as “Tag Team,” wrote and produced the song and entered an exclusive producers agreement with Bellmark, according to court documents. Since then, the legal wrangling has mostly been played out in federal court in Texarkana, Texas. “After purchasing Bellmark’s assets, DM exploited the composition copyright of Whoomp!,” the three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit wrote, citing the bankruptcy…

Offensive song prompts police reaction
Criminal Law / January 2015

CRIMINAL All areas   A Harvard graduate is fighting back against a Florida police officer who allegedly gave him three tickets for playing the N.W.A song “Fuck the Police” in his earshot. Cesar Baldelomar, 26, a Crimson alum and law student at Florida International University is not only disputing the ticket, he’s also consulted a lawyer and is asking the police department in Hialeah, Florida, near Miami, to investigate Harold Garzon, the officer in question. The incident occurred over Thanksgiving weekend, when Baldelomar was driving to his mother’s home in Hialeah. He says was stopped at a red light, listening to music, not far from where Garzon was filling out paperwork related to a separate traffic accident, when suddenly, the N.W.A song came on the radio. When Garzon,, heard the chorus —”F*ck the police!”— he allegedly wasn’t pleased and told Baldelomar to pull over. The Miami New Times reported that Garzon has 16 other internal affairs claims against him, though it’s not clear how many were legitimate.In this case it seems the officer claimed it was illegal to play music loudly within 25 feet of another citizen, but Baldelomar disputed this. Local press confirmed that  in 2012, the state Supreme…

Business rate demands for festival sites set to be challenged
Licensing , Live Events , Taxation / January 2015

LICENSING / TAXATION Live events sector   Festival magazine reports that festival organisers and landowners who host festivals have reacted angrily to recent demands from local authorities for business rates on lane formerly classified as agricultural – with some demands being back dated to 2010. In Valuation Office Agency has said that it was “reviewing unassessed festival sites to ensure that all are correctly rated. This treats all businesses equally and ensures they pay their fair share of the overall rates bill. Local authorities have a discretion to reduce the rate by up to 100% on events that benefit the local economy. The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) and the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) are set to challenge the new approach with festival organisers pointing out that land use is sometimes for just a few days a year, and services and amenities that a town centre music venue might receive as part of is business rates – such as refuse collection, street lighting and recyling services – are not available to festival sites,   Festival Magazine December 2014 (Audience)

Small venues look for greater government support
Licensing , Live Events / January 2015

LICENSING Live events sector   Some interesting ideas came out of the recent one day Music Venues Trust ‘Venues Day’ conference in London – neatly summarised by Jonathan Robinson in one of Music Tank’s excellent newsletters who pointed out “little appears to have changed in the ten years MusicTank has looked at issues afflicting live, from noise abatement, and Licensing Act reform to form 696 and secondary ticketing”  – points raised by representatives from small venues from across the UK included: lobbying Government for an extension of the tax status recently afforded theatre and orchestras (VAT is crippling small venue businesses); pooling of knowledge via a website (to help each other); booking agents ‘gifting’ back a successful band, to, say a venue that helped them on their way in the early years (supporting and acknowledging the importance of this sector); local authorities having to include cultural policy as part of planning policy; take a lead from Unesco and introduce its protective status to areas of music heritage and high cultural value; further highlight the economic value live music brings to cities, towns and neighbourhoods; make a case for state funding for UK bands to be able to do UK tours…

NCP politician asks for Goan festival tax
Licensing , Taxation / January 2015

LICENSING / TAXATION Live events sector   An Indian politician has questioned the “arbitrary fee” of 1 crore levied by the BJP-led government on the organizers of an electronic dance music (EDM) festivals in the state, of Goa. NCP leader Trajano D’Mello asked the government to propose a new law taxation for music festivals saying “If you are levying a fee, it should be permitted by law. There should be proper classification of taxation. ” Pointing out that if the government was not providing any correlated service, even though it was charging a fee, D’Mello said the license fee amounts to a tax. “If a tax is being levied, then there has to be authorization by law. Admittedly in this case there is no authorization by law, there is no legislation authorizing the government to permit hosting of music festivals in the state of Goa,” added Rohit Bras de Sa, an advocate, who was also at a December press conference staged as two EDM events got underway at Candolim and Vagator. De Sa and D’Mello also suggested that the government conduct random blood tests at the music festivals to see whether drugs are being consumed. They also suggested that the…